Indian dilemma — To Nano or not to Nano

March 18, 2009

I was stuck in a traffic jam on one of New Delhi’s busiest roads, taking in the sights and smells of vehicles idling in all directions, when my cab driver turned to me and asked — “Are you going to buy the Tata Nano?”

It’s a question thrown at me several times over the past few months and each time the answer has been “No”.

Tata Motors is launching the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, on March 23. Bookings open in the second week of April and the 100,000-rupee car is slated to hit Indian roads before July.

As D-day draws near, excitement is palpable among India’s middle-class. Dealers are reporting thousands of enquires daily. After all, buying a car is part of the great Indian dream and the ultimate goal for many a teenager.

With the Nano, it’s now slightly easier to turn that dream into reality. Many of the men and women zipping around on scooters and motorcycles would be eager to upgrade to a four-wheeler.

Those who travel by bus or autorickshaw would also be tempted to go in for a change. And don’t forget the rich — they wouldn’t mind having an extra car just to collect the groceries.

As for me, even my “No” sometimes veers towards a “Maybe”.

But my curiosity has been piqued by my driver’s question and I ask him if he has any plans of bringing home the Nano.

“I can buy it for sure but where am I going to drive it?” he said, pointing to the chaos around us.

I agree. I can hardly see the road. New Delhi is already bursting at its seams with cars big and small — and it’s a problem that’s fast spreading to other Indian cities.

And if, as I suspect, the coming months see long lines outside Tata Nano showrooms, I hope the wannabe owners of the “people’s car” will ask for a road-to-drive-on guarantee.


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You are right Mr.Tony, we are not able to see the roads in India..your argument and decision to not to buy is correct, unless you have an option to buy some car which can fly from your roof top and do not need road to move and is as cheap as nano..till you get such flying cars be happy with nano.

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

I think Nano will be hit. Anyone looking to buy a good bike worth 70K may think to go for Nano. Anyday Car will be much safer than two wheelers on Indian traffic condition. My votes for Nano.

I have written much more on Nano at this link. Please read. tos-review-and-specifications-of-tata-na no-first-time-test-drive-of-tata-nano-ta tas-baby-nano-is-clear-winner-tata-motor s-launching-nano-on-march-23-for-booking

Posted by Sachin | Report as abusive

You are right in a way, but am sure the Nano would help fulfill this common Indian dream..
But, for a common man, isn’t it better that you are stuck in a traffic jam sitting inside a Nano rather than some bus/rickshaw/scooter?

Posted by Aditya | Report as abusive

Is NANO responsbile if the roads are not visible? No, Responsibility lies with users of Big cars whcih occupy more space on road when compared with single occupant per car. Nano or any small car is a best option road traffic which contribute by occupying lesser space and don’t create parking space problems either. Importantly small cars also contribute by consuming lower fuels in comparison to their Bigger sisters on roads. Nana! Jai Ho!!!

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive

It is not right to blame Nano for the congustion of the roads. It is the responsibility of the goverment to make bigger and wider roads, as they are the tax collectors. When first cars came out, there were no roads at all, but nobody blamed the cars, instead new roads were built. Poor people will not remain poor forever. They also have hopes and aspirations like owning a car. Nano is their hope . They are also equal citizens of the country. Richer people cannot say that… ‘Hey it is a cheaper car, it will congust the roads, it should be banned’.

Posted by Sabari nathan | Report as abusive

Most Indian cities have grown congested owning to lack of proper transport. Even with two wheelers faring long distance is not convenient. So people tend to stay closer to market and workplace.

With more people owning cars we can see a growth of suburbs in Indian cities where people using their cars to reach city limit and hopping to public transport within city limits. Provided public transport also improves simultaneously.

It’s already happening in Delhi with Metro.

Since its inception Nano has faced many naysayers. But it is changing the rule of the game.
With the American car behemoths crumbling people are re looking at people’s car with renewed interest.

Posted by chirkut | Report as abusive

No. of cars on the roads are not the only reason for Traffic jams and congestion, its the people and their road sense. No matter how big the roads or no. of cars few irresponsible and self centered people can still create a chaos on the roads. If people start being more responsible and follow traffic rules and common sense, the Indian roads will improve a lot, Nano or not.

Posted by Shraddha | Report as abusive

First democratization of the car was led by Henry Ford in the US by launching vehicles that could be afforded by everyone. That pre-dated the so popular US highways. US has since produced by and large the best highway system on the planet. It was driven by demand. Hopefully we will follow the same path. The short-term congestion may lead to a long term solution.

Posted by falak | Report as abusive

Regarding traffic issues /congestion/parking /the millions-of-cars lamenting etc..
The SOLUTION is very simple. Hand over the inefficient infrastructure development to the TATAs.
The inefficient bureaucrats and poor city planners need to be done away with, cause even though its their responsibility to provide and plan for its citizens , they suck at it.
hand over all planning and execution of infrastructure to TATAs engineers. leave them alone for a few months and youd have super cheap highways and probably cute efficient nano-highways that will also make money! Instead of everbody bitching like its Nanos problem, its the govt’s job to provide that for its people.That needs to be overhauled.

Imagine -If the world had to STOP business,inventions, science,competition or envisioning and coming out with creative products due to- shortcomings of GOVTs duties.
We’d be writing on parched paper, no vaccines, and the ride would be a camel not the NANO.

Point being, if 2 lanes of a major highway are at full capacity,
A New highway is built OR the existing one is broadened OR imaginatively planned and creatively enhanced.
People don’t start driving bullock carts to slow down the speed of the highway (read progress).
That’s the way, a modern country and its govt should work, function and do.
Instead of bitching and moaning about space and limitations, pressure and squeeze should be put on politicians to provide
Or be replaced with whoever can do the job.So that India accelerates in its momentum forward.

Posted by planetautomatic | Report as abusive